{Happy 1st Blogiversary} A New Look + Giveaway!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to me! 

My first blogiversary or blog birthday was technically on the 17th, but since I only wrote one post last May, it doesn't really matter which day I celebrate it.  I just knew I wanted to celebrate with a new blog design so here it is! What do you think? 

It's been more than 3 months since I first asked Joy, of How Joyful Design to work with me in creating a new blog template for Sweets by Sillianah.  It's a good thing I got a head start because it took longer than expected for me to decide what I liked and didn't like.  Joy has been extremely patient with me and my indecisiveness - thank you, chica!  [the birdy/tree logo in the header is a custom design by Sandra Busta]

Like with most things in my life, the blog is a work in progress... I will continue to add new features and make tweaks here and there.  If you haven't noticed already, I recently added a recipe index as well as a page for my "sweet reads". I have also updated the "about" page with a few new tidbits about myself as well as the story behind why I started this blog.  So, if you're new to these parts, feel free to check it out.  

I agonized over what to bake for my blogiversary celebration - I wanted to make something special and fancy but didn't want to end up with leftovers if I made cake.  The monsoon weather in NYC didn't help... what could I make that would photograph well in all of this gray and gloom?

Finally, it hit me.  I had to make macarons.  It's the one thing that I've been trying to conquer this past year... and now I can safely say that I have.  It's all thanks to this new fool-proof recipe I came across on Mardi's (Eat.Live.Travel.Write) blog.  The creator of this wonderful recipe is Stella, of BraveTart.  I actually had read Stella's Macaron Myths  a while ago but wasn't fully convinced until I saw Mardi's step-by-step photos.  After making several batches this past month, I learned that my problem this past year was not due to rainy days, un-aged (or not aged long enough) egg whites, or not letting them "rest" long enough.  My problem was being afraid and anxious that I wasn't performing all of the steps correctly... all the "cautions" and "warnings" made me second guess myself, which resulted in me under-beating the meringue.  The macs you see in these photos? I made them yesterday, when it was pouring out, with fresh egg whites (at room temperature) and placed right in the oven after piping.  

So what does this all mean? It means more than just making pretty macarons... it means I have to be persistent and diligent in my baking.  It means I cannot be afraid.  It means I should experiment more with different recipes.  It means I have to continue challenging myself.  It means I should learn from others and pass that knowledge forward.  

Thanks to all of you that have stuck with me this past year - even through my funks.  I'm incredibly grateful to have met so many talented and generous bloggers and am excited to see what this next year of blogging will  bring for Sweets by Sillianah. 

As a thank you, I am doing a fun little giveaway...

While searching for a fun giveaway prize, I stumbled across Wobbly Plates by atelierBB on Etsy.  These little dessert plates are so whimsical and colorful - and the perfect size for your cupcake, muffin or macarons! Plus, they're having a sale - who doesn't love a sale?

If you'd like to enter to win 2 of these plates (::edit:: in baby blue& lime), please just leave a comment below and let me know what you think of my new blog design!  A winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, May 27th.  

I am funding this giveaway but the plates will be shipped directly from atelierBB.  
Only US residents please.  Enter by 11:59pm EST, Thursday, May 26th. 

Brigitte, the talented artist behind these plates has agreed to give sweets by sillianah readers a special 15% discount.  Just mention "SWEETWOBBLY" [edit] at checkout.  Go check out her shop